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30 December 2011

Scialatielli with Mussels, Clams & Bronte Pistachios

Mussels, clams, fish, lemons.... I still cannot get over my Costiera Amalfitana (Amalfi Coast) fever.   And what is the best medicine to an imaginary sickness like this?  Reliving the moment through food. Not being able to capture the genuine tastes of the coast would eventually shake away these cobwebs. But persistence pays off because this pasta dish is a very good substitute to the true flavors of Amalfi Coast. Original recipe adapted from Chef Cecio

29 December 2011

Scaloppine al Limone (Veal Scallops with Lemon)

After getting fully stuffed for two consecutive meals of Christmas celebrations, I was ready for something simple and light for dinner. I was deliberating between a plate of pasta or just salad.  In fact, I was convinced that I would be having just a simple plate of pasta when we went back to our hotel in Scala. The restaurant proprietor proposed tagliatelle alla boscaiola. My son doesn't like mushrooms so a plate of scaloppine al limone (veal scallops with lemon) was suggested.

My immediate thought was when was the last time I had it myself?  I love scaloppine al limone when they are very tasty and tender.  I ordered the same, and was awarded with a genuinely delicious dish. The signora handling the kitchen took our order, cooked and placed the plates in front of us in no more than half an hour.  It's a simple & quick recipe.  I had the best scaloppine al limone in my life.

28 December 2011

Chocolate Ice Cream Pie with Coffee Sauce

I knew I should have listened to my gut feeling that the recipe of Nigella that I was following was overly-sweet.   Sometimes failures can give surprising outcomes.   When I tried the butterscotch sauce to top the ice cream pie, it made my hair stand up.  It was out-of-the-limit sweet.  And I am even one person who can't tolerate excessively (or just a tad) sweet cakes.  My solution stared at me on the stove.  My moka express was holding the answer.   I need to add some espresso to neutralize the sugar.

24 December 2011

Passito di Pantelleria Straw Wine Truffles with Dried Grapes

Chocolate truffles are truly irresistible. One of the best things I love looking at is endless rows of chocolate truffles of different varieties through a glass counter. They hypnotize me.  Really.  

I was looking at the picture I submitted to a food site when I happened to see a picture of delicious looking red wine truffles of The Art of Dessert in the same page.  I clicked, read and found out that this icon of absoluteness is actually easy to do. That discovery sealed the truffles' accessibility to my cravings. And that permanently ended my bouts of glass counter hypnosis. 

21 December 2011

Penne all'Arrabbiata

Walking out of the bar / shop of the sprawling sanctuary of Santuario di Nostra Signora di Fatima, I was amused with the irony of my purchase but my husband was even more amused that I was able to buy something even from the church.  What's in the bag?  Infernale (infernal) condiment for making penne all' arrabbiata.  Arrabbiata means angry.

Economical, easy and tasty (if you prefer to walk on the hot side).   I usually avoid spicy food and for that reason, I made this pasta only now, after so many years of tiptoeing in its territory.  I was wrong not to have cooked it all these years!  I thought it was just a normal pasta dish with tomato sauce spiked with chillies.  The chillies toasted in the oil with the garlic gave a different flavor to the pasta.  

19 December 2011

Amarena Mascarpone Trifle

After a delectable meal, there's nothing more agreeable than to conclude it with an equally delicious dessert.   I think I am not alone on that.   It is an integral part of a meal, that if well-orchestrated, gives the conclusive effect on the whole eating experience.   The "run away there's cream in it" in me can even forget about desserts drowned in cream as long as the final piece to the gastronomic picture is scrumptious too. 

On a daily basis at home, I rarely prepare desserts because we usually stop at the fruits after a meal.  I only prepare this course when I cook an elaborate dinner.  So, after a labor-intensive, but rewarding dinner, I served this cream with dessert dessert with cream.  Maybe I am finally letting my hair down with all this dairy constraint hang up, but yes, I did eat a whole bowl of this scrumptious dessert! 

18 December 2011

Egg, Salami & Potato Skillet

A train ride, a tram ride and a leisurely walk after, Josie of Cumin in the Cupboard and I arrived at our destination, Campo de' Fiori, the square where the oldest market in Rome is located.  Only, we were there at 12:55 and the market closes at 13:00.  With five minutes to spare, we both opted for breakfast, brunch or lunch.  The time says it's lunch but our stomachs say it's breakfast.  On top of everything, there was an exigent need for caffeine to clear the morning cobwebs in our heads.  

14 December 2011

Pumpernickel Domino Bread, Pear Slaw & Smoked Salmon

When I noticed that the bookshelves were bursting again (the last time was so many years ago), I finally gave in to the task that I had been procrastinating for a long time.  Time to give in, accept that we have too many books and to start the herculean task of sorting the books.  And when you succumb to this, there's no excuse anymore (laziness definitely included!) but to grab the feather duster and boxes and start sorting through them one by one.   One box goes to the local library and another box to the recycling bin.  

12 December 2011

Chicken Rolls with Gorgonzola, Mascarpone & Mushrooms

One, I was aware that it's a Sunday.  Two, I was also aware that it is just two weeks short of Christmas.  Yet, I, along with my kids and husband, braved the shops to do our late Christmas shopping.   For some of you, it might not be late yet, but for me, who never failed to arrive to December with a hole in the Christmas shopping list, I was already getting apprehensive.

11 December 2011

Port Braised Pork Steak with Roasted Grapes & Grilled Polenta

I'm a bigger meat eater than my significant other. He prefers the side dishes and I prefer the main courses. It's a perfect matrimony of selective allocation. I'm very finical with my vegetables and being a Mom can be stressful because I have to provide a healthy array of well-balanced food to my kids.  That means cooking and eating all the vegetables like I am loving every single bite I take. Whew! Up until now, my little scheme is working so.... Ssshhhhhh!  No one tells the kids that Mom is a closet fussy vegetable eater! 

08 December 2011

Matcha Green Tea Shortbread Cookies

Before having kids, I said I would start making cookies and cakes for them.  My son was born and I made his baby food with my reliable baby food maker every single day up until he was big enough to be served adult food. The cookies and cakes never materialized from my oven.  Mother duties took me away from my desire to be a baker mom. 

07 December 2011

Amatriciana Bianca or Gricia (White Amatriciana)

Every year, we make a 400 km. car trip from our house to Amatrice and back that takes about 5 hours just to have plates of spaghetti all'amatriciana.  I know it sounds outrageous, but in Italy, it's not surprising to take long trips just to treat yourself with the food specialty of a town.  If the food is exceptional, then it's worth every single kilometer.  That is how everyone takes gastronomy seriously.

Arriving in Amatrice, we go directly to the restaurant known to serve the best spaghetti all'amatriciana in town, Hotel Ristorante Roma.  The place has two big dining areas that are always completely full of people, really full that for a small, sleepy town, you wonder where all the people come from.  Here we discovered that spaghetti all'amatriciana actually comes in two versions.  The lesser known white and the popular red.  With and without tomatoes.   We all prefer the white and we see from the other tables that white is more popular too.  It's a surprise because I usually love dishes with tomatoes.  This one is an exception.  It is one of the most delicious pasta dishes I have ever tried.  No kidding.

04 December 2011

Chicory Salad with Anchovy Dressing (Insalata di Puntarelle alla Romana)

I had always believed that I don't like bitter vegetables.  I just realized that I actually like some of them because when I encounter them in the market, I excitedly put them in my cart without any second thoughts.  I surprised myself when I saw a cleaned and sliced pack of puntarelle (chicory) the other day and actually drooled all the way home imagining the delectable dressing that goes with it.  It is a traditional salad of the region of Lazio, where Rome is.  The inner and tender shoots of the chicory are cut into strips, curled by bathing them in iced water and dressed with anchovy, garlic, vinegar & extra virgin olive oil dressing.  It is simple, delicious (if not a bit bitter) and well.... healthy. 

02 December 2011

Braised Beef with Port & Ham Patè

November seemed like a very long month this year and I am glad that we have moved on to December because it gives a promise of good cheers. All the months of the year are usually the same for me really.  It's just that the month had passed by with too many things happening all at once.  What left us very sore is when our 11-year old dog was diagnosed with cancer and died within a week. We took turns sitting with him and consoling him from his obvious pains. All the while, I was hoping to see him stand up and shake away this sadness that overtook his eyes and body. I found it much more difficult to sit down and explain to my son, the best friend who was to be left behind, about letting go when we ourselves had to face the reality that our long time companion was slipping away.